WKBF (AM)

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This article is about the radio station in Rock Island, Illinois; for the old television station in Cleveland, Ohio, see WKBF-TV.
WKBF
City of license Rock Island, Illinois
Broadcast area Quad Cities
Branding La Jefa 1270
Frequency 1270 kHz
Translator(s) (see section)
First air date February 1925 (as WHBF)
Format Traditional Mexican Music
Power 5,000 watts
(1 tower Day)
(2 towers Night)
Class B
Facility ID 8593
Callsign meaning Where Historic Blackhawk Fought (original callsign)
Former callsigns WHBF (1925-1987)
Owner Quad Cities Media
Webcast Listen Live
Website lajefa1270.com

WKBF is a radio station licensed to Rock Island, Illinois, and carries a Spanish Regional Music format. The station's frequency is 1270 kHz, and broadcasts at a power of 5 kW. Its transmitter is located on 22nd Avenue (Old Colona Road) in Moline, alongside the Moline–East Moline border just off of 53rd Street and Avenue of the Cities.

WKBF is currently owned by Quad Cities Media.

History of 1270 kHz[edit]

Early history[edit]

The history of the Rock Island allocation for WKBF dates to 1925, when businessman Calvin Beardsley purchased an experimental radio transmitter that operated in Cambridge, Illinois. He took the equipment and set it up at the rear of his store in Rock Island.

Beardsley went on the air in February 1925, using the callsign WHBF and broadcasting at 100 watts. The letters were said to stand for "Where Historic Blackhawk Fought."

The station moved to the Harms Hotel in Rock Island in 1932. In November of that year, Beardsley sold interest in his station to the John Potter family, which operated the Rock Island Argus.[1] Later during the 1930s, the station moved to its current home at 1270 kHz, and had its power boosted to 5 kW.

WHBF was joined by a sister FM radio station - WHBF-FM, the first in the Quad Cities - in October 1947, and a television station went on the air in July 1950. By now, all three facilities were located in the Telco Building in downtown Rock Island.

WHBF underwent many format changes since the end of the Golden Age of Radio. For instance, listeners tuning into the station during the 1960s and early 1970s found a middle-of-the-road, adult standards format.

1974-1995: 'Country Sunshine' Era[edit]

The station's signature format for many years was country music. WHBF was known as "Country Sunshine Radio" and brought current and classic country music to listeners 24 hours a day.

WHBF first adopted the country format in 1974, and for years was among the top-rated stations in the Quad Cities market, alongside powerhouses KSTT and KIIK 104.

But by the mid-1980s and the explosive growth of FM radio, WHBF's listenership began to wane. WLLR-FM, which began broadcasting its country format at the Quad-Cities market's 101.3 MHz in 1983, began to erode WHBF's listenership and by the end of the 1980s, WLLR was the overall top-rated overall station in the market. Meanwhile, 1270 kHz - which changed to WKBF in 1987 - would never regain its former popularity.

WKBF's country format struggled through the early 1990s, getting most of its programming from the ABC Radio Networks' "Real Country" satellite service. In 1994, management was in negotiations with Steve Bridges of 99.7 KFMH to move its progressive music format and its staff to 1270 after that station was sold, but nothing ever came of it. By 1995, with WKBF at the bottom of the ratings for several years, station managers finally decided to lay the country station to rest.

Format shuffle[edit]

For more than a year, WKBF simulcasted WHTS-FM's Top 40 format. By September 1996, the station premiered an adult standards/MOR format at the frequency, although virtually all of its programming was from ABC Radio Networks. However, this format's listenership remained minimal.

In February 2004, programmers with the Quad-City Radio Group - which by now was operating the station - decided to use the frequency for a country recurrents format. WKBF played country favorites from the 1970s through 1990s, but the station's format failed to entice listeners.

WKBF's next format - a liberal talk format - premiered on the frequency in March 2005. The station's primary programming came from Air America Radio, with hosts including Al Franken, Stephanie Miller and Mark Riley. Despite all the format changes, one carryover program remained: "Croonerville", a Sunday morning program of adult standards hosted by local personality Charlie Honold; the program premiered on WKBF in 1996 and ran for 10 years. While the switch to progressive talk provided a modest boost to WKBF's ratings (reaching a 2.6 share in the fall 2005 Arbitron) the station was sold and promptly became an outlet for Christian talk.

2006-2007: Christian Talk era[edit]

Prior to 2006, WKBF (and sister station WHTS) were owned by Mercury Broadcasting, and was operated by a joint sales agreement with Clear Channel Communications.

In October 2006, it was announced the station would be acquired by Quad Cities Media and would go Christian talk by the end of the year [2]. On December 5, the station switched to an all-Christmas format, the prelude to a Christian-oriented lineup. Known as "Truth 1270," the primary focus was on Christian preaching and teaching; sacred music was provided by AbidingRadio at night and early morning.

The format lasted until June 21, signing off at 11:59 p.m. with a 100-year-old recording of Ira Sankey sigining "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."

During the "Truth 1270" era, WKBF became the Quad City market's first radio station to go digital, with the CAM-D technology.

2007-Present: Regional Mexican era[edit]

On June 22, 2007, WKBF debuted "La Pantera", a regional Mexican format, thus becoming the first full-time Spanish radio station in the Quad Cities. [3]

During 2007, WKBF broadcast high school and Iowa State University sports broadcasts, and Quad Cities River Bandits baseball games in the English language, alongside its Spanish-language programming; the sports programming has since moved to other stations in the market, and the station is now exclusively Spanish language. The station currently calls itself "La Jefa" (Spanish for "The Boss Lady")

In early 2013, WKBF – which had been broadcasting on an FM translator at 105.7 MHz in the Quad Cities, applied to the Federal Communications Corporation to move the transmitter to Moline, Illinois (from Davenport) and upgrade its power from 10 watts to 250 watts.[2]

History of call letters[edit]

The call letters WKBF were previously assigned to an AM station in Indianapolis, Indiana. That station became WIRE in the 1930s.[3]

Translators[edit]

Call sign Frequency
(MHz)
City of license ERP
W
Height
m (ft)
Class FCC info
K289BI 105.7 Davenport, Iowa 250 126.8 m (416 ft) D FCC

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Newspaper Buys WHBF". Broadcasting. November 1, 1932. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Burke, David, "Why the Q-C mentions in recent movies, TV?" Quad-City Times, January 5, 2013. Accessed 05-07-2013. [1]
  3. ^ "WIRE on Basic Red". Broadcasting. May 1, 1935. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°29′40″N 90°28′00″W / 41.49444°N 90.46667°W / 41.49444; -90.46667